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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Luxury Retailer Nick Linca Drops Into ‘The Barb Wire’

Florida retailer has perfected the concept of the jewelry store as “third place” for his customers.

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THE BARB WIRE EPISODE 6: NICK LINCA (53:27 MINUTES)


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THIS MONTH, the Barb Wire welcomes innovative jeweler Nick Linca, a managing partner with Provident Jewelry, a seven-store jewelry retailer.

The business launched 25 years ago as a jeweler specializing in estate goods. However, in 2008, it moved in a new direction by opening a luxurious, state-of-the-art store in Jupiter, FL selling higher-end branded goods.

Linca, who had been a manager at Zale in the late 1990s and a sales manager at Hamilton Jewelers from 2000 to 2008, was brought on to lead the launch of Provdent Jewelry’s new Jupiter business.

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Over the past 11 years, the group’s Jupiter location has achieved status of one of the country’s most impressive jewelry stores, selling brands like Baume-et-Mercier, Bell & Ross, Breitling, Carl F. Bucherer, Cartier, Chopard and more, while featuring luxurious amenities like a fully stocked bar and cigar bar for customers.

Chatting with Barbara, Nick talks about the background of the business (2:00), and the importance of opening a store around the right people rather than the other way around (4:00). He discusses the mindset in opening the Jupiter store of creating a “third place” for customers, a la Starbucks — a place that is not work and is not home (6:45). Barbara raves about the opulence of the drink bar and cigar bar at the Jupiter store (8:50).

Nick loves that his customers can finish a round of golf, then invite a friend over for a post-round drink and cigar at the jewelry store (10:30). He shares how the team at Provident likes to “blow it out” and have fun with store events, including an upcoming “Bubbles and Bling” party (14:20).

Barbara and Nick discuss Provident Jewelry’s wide-ranging charity activities (14:30), including dog adoptions. And Nick shares the reasons why, over time, he has connected so much with independent watch brands (18:50) over time.

One reason is loyalty. After a 2011 robbery in which Provident Jewelry lost more than $15 million in inventory, and were uncertain to survive. During that stressful period, Nick saw how some brands acted like partners, and others didn’t (20:30).

Watch discussion continues with Nick sharing how he used FaceTime to make direct sales to customers of newly released watches while in Basel (24:00). He also tells a story of an extremely unusual trade-in he received on a high-end watch recently (31:30).

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In the later portion of the podcast, Barbara asks her regular series of standard regular questions. In this section, Nick shares his dream industry dinner partner (33:50), refers to his 65-year-old clients as “millennials” (35:20); tells of the useful people skill inherited from his father that helps him (38:00); identifies his biggest fan (38:40); and shares his favorite four-letter industry word, which we think could become yours as well (40:10).

He shares his favorite trade event (41:00), and talks of a few shockingly extravagant parties he has attended at this event over the years, as well as revealing the details of a fiendishly brilliant prank played with a chili pepper on a member of his travel party (44:10).

Barbara Palumbo is a watch and jewelry industry writer, journalist and speaker. She manages the blogging websites Adornmentality.com and Whatsonherwrist.com.

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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Millennial Gem Trader Dave Bindra Steps Into ‘The Barb Wire’

Meet the gem expert and owner of one of the industry’s coolest Instagram accounts.

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THE BARB WIRE EPISODE 5: DAVE BINDRA (50:27 MINUTES)


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THIS MONTH on The Barb Wire, host Barbara Palumbo welcomes a rising star in the jewelry business, gem trader Dave Bindra, vice-president of B&B Fine Gems. Still in his early 30s, Bindra has built up an impressive resume, serving as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the GIA Alumni Association, member of the board of directors of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, acclaimed AGS Conclave speaker, not to mention running a seriously cool Instagram account @gemfluencer. (Come for the awesome collection of gemstones, stay for the awesome collection of color-coordinated shoes.)

Enjoy the newest episode of The Barb Wire. It’s talk radio for the jewelry business.


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 2:00 Dave shares a short bio, explaining how he was “born into the business” when his father started selling gemstones after immigrating from India to the United States.
  • 3:50 Dave, who is in his early 30s, was asked recently how many years he has been going to the Tucson gem shows. He said he thought it was his 29th year. Receiving a shocked expression from his conversation partner, he explained that he used to “sleep under the showcases” as a kid while his parents sold gems at the show.
  • 5:10 Dave talks about his strategy of colored gemstone curation. He emphasizes: “We are not here to sell a commodity; we are here to sell a precious item.”
  • 8:30 Barbara reveals herself to be a huge fan of Dave’s Instagram account, @gemfluencer.
  • 9:20 Gemstone of the moment? Dave says spinel, noting that it has been “undervalued for centuries” and often misidentified as ruby in high jewelry through the ages.
  • 15:20 Other gemstones whose moment is on the horizon? Dave says garnet, which is following spinel’s path. Durable, highly transparent, a solid supply of material. Also, paraiba tourmaline.
  • 19:50 Discussing the lack of control over gemstone terminology, Barbara shares a funny story from her teenage years of how a QVC line of cubic zirconia with the alluring name of “Pink Ice”, became a phenomenon amongst the girls of her high school class.
  • 26:20 Barbara asks Dave what he feels the most important thing that his generation has added to the jewelry business. Dave says technology. He tells of his industry friends who, within a few years, have built social media followings in the hundreds of thousands. In a lot of cases, Dave emphasizes, these are people who wouldn’t otherwise have had exposure to the world of gems, jewelry and watches.
  • 27:50 Barbara and Dave commiserate over not being able to attend Basel this year.
  • 31:10 Barbara asks … what would happen if our current social media platforms suddenly went away? Dave bemoans a system where people’s importance is judged by how many social media followers they have. “You know first-hand, there are a ton of people out there who 2-, 3-, or 400,000 followers … half of them are bots.” He concludes, “We have to be very careful of how much value we place on this avenue and on this platform. And everything has a shelf life.”
  • 37:10 Dave selects one jewelry industry person and one watch industry person, alive or dead, he’d want to have dinner with. For jewelry, he picks Frederick Kunz, the famed minerologist who sourced gems for Tiffany at the turn of the century. And for watches, legendary executive Jean Claude Biver.
  • 40:35 Who is or was your greatest influence? Dave says his father. “I never wanted to join the family business. He never wanted me in the family business, to be honest with you. So it’s kind of funny how things worked out.” His biggest fan? His mom.
  • 43:10 His biggest morning needs? Coffee and meditation … the latter before the former.
  • 43:50 Favorite trade show? Tucson. He calls it “fun, laid-back, and color-centric.” And he also gives a shout-out to AGS Conclave.
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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Michael O’Connor, Jewelry’s Perfect Spokesman, Visits ‘The Barb Wire’

Learn how he grew from salesperson into one of jewelry’s most visible commentators.

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THE BARB WIRE EPISODE 4: MICHAEL O’CONNOR (58:09 MINUTES)


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MICHAEL O’CONNOR drops into The Barb Wire this month to chat with host Barbara Palumbo about his life in the jewelry business — which has featured one of the most unique career paths imaginable.

The two discuss Michael’s progress from Toronto teenager to jewelry salesperson, to New York-based jewelry designer, to jewelry marketer, to QVC on-air presenter, and finally, his ultimate transformation into celebrity stylist and on-air style commentator for numerous major media brands. The long-time industry fixture now runs Style & Substance, his own marketing and communications firm supporting quality lifestyle brands.

Other discussion topics include techniques for staying young, the importance of eliminating the BS in business relationships (and non-business relationships), as well as this year’s Oscar trends.

Plus, we get fun dish on Michael’s many celebrity relationships — including details on which member of the Desperate Housewives cast is most fun to drink margaritas with.

Enjoy the newest episode of The Barb Wire. It’s talk radio for the jewelry business.


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 2:00 How long has Michael been in the business? He began in 1979, “when diamonds were discovered,” he quips.
  • 3:00 How does Michael stay looking so young? “It’s nothing that anyone couldn’t do with [the help of] $50,000 worth of plastic surgery,” he jokes.
  • 4:05 Barbara admits that she actually made a batch of popcorn for this interview.
  • 4:20 Michael shares his range of experience in the jewelry industry. He’s done … just about everything. He shares the story of his introduction to the industry, as a teenager in Canada, when he opportunistically turned running an errand for his father into a job as a jewelry salesperson.
  • 12:30 After working in sales, design and at the bench, Michael finally comes to America. (And yes, he does have a green card.) He gets experience with what he calls “a few small, unknown companies” like Gucci, DeBeers, Frederick Goldman, etc.
  • 15:30 At this point, in the late 1980s, he moved away from designing and into marketing. With many companies moving away from full-time “house designers”, as well as the increasing prevalence of CAD design, he felt that marketing would be a more valuable career to be in than design.
  • 20:20 Michael takes on a role as senior vice president with Platinum Guild International and begins to see increased exposure as a television personality.
  • 21:40 On the importance of being no-BS in the jewelry industry … and life.
  • 23:10 How the hell did Michael get on television, Barbara asks. He started by pitching a brand for Frederick Goldman on QVC over a span of about two years. The brand never took off, but Michael’s TV career did, as he did more work for QVC, as well as additional TV projects including his own TV series, MovieStyle with Michael O’Connor for Reelz.
  • 29:50 Michael begins to cover celebrity fashion on TV, and his agency suggests that he also begins working directly on styling and placing fashion items with celebrities. He drops a few names of celebrities he has worked with, like Amy Adams.
  • 31:20 All-time favorite clients included the cast of Desperate Housewives, with particular affection for Nicolette Sheridan, who was good at promoting the product and also didn’t mind a margarita after the events were over.
  • 32:20 Other casts that he has worked with — the cast of The Office and Orange is the New Black. (And he remains friends with many of them.)
  • 34:00 Do all celebrities expect payment for wearing a specific jewelry brand to an event? Michael says no. He takes pride in the fact that celebrities regularly call him, without expecting payment, to ask what he can accessorize them for an awards show.
  • 37:10 Michael shares his predictions for the Oscars red carpet, explaining the difference between “trends” and “fads”. His basic assessment? Jewelry is getting much bigger, size-wise.
  • 42:50 Barbara and Michael touch on the “man-brooch” trend that Michael may have created at one awards show a few years back.
  • 45:40 Michael selects the one person, alive or dead, he would most want to have dinner with. While first mentioning two dearly missed friends he’d cherish seeing again (the late Cindy Edelstein and Robin Rotenier), his choice is a Russian jeweler who was one of the most famous designers of all time.
  • 48:00 Michael shares his greatest influence. It was someone in his life who had a great work ethic, and was brutally honest — two qualities Michael believes he has carried into his professional life.
  • 51:00 Favorite industry show? JCK. It’s the one show where Michael feels he can see everybody.
  • 55:40 Gold or platinum? It would be a serious upset if the former senior vice president of the Platinum Guild wasn’t #teamplatinum. Of course, he’s #teamplatinum.
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The Barb Wire

Podcast: Alexis Padis Shares Her Story, and a Few Drinks, on “The Barb Wire”

It’s more than a podcast … it’s a drinking game, too.

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THE BARB WIRE (EPISODE 3): ALEXIS PADIS (65:24 MINUTES)


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IN THIS EPISODE of The Barb Wire, host Barbara Palumbo talks — and shares a few drinks — with Alexis Padis, director of operations at the successful San Francisco-area jewelry store, Padis Jewelry, plus the company’s side business, Padis Vineyards. Padis is also the youngest member of the board of the American Gem Society and was a 2017 Award of Excellence winner from the Women’s Jewelry Association.

Discussion topics include the role of millennials in the jewelry industry, as well as unfounded prejudices against millennials in the jewelry business. The two discuss the rise of Padis Jewelry, which started with Alexis’s father, Steve, selling puka shells out of his car trunk, and is now an area fixture serving San Francisco’s rising “Cloud Corridor” of major tech businesses. Padis also talks about how her father’s “side hustle” turned into a successful Napa Valley vineyard and wine label producing 3,000 bottles of highly-rated wine per year.

The episode includes impressive levels of morning alcohol intake (including a challenge in which the participants have to finish a glass of wine or champagne any time the word “Conclave” is uttered), and includes shoutouts to John Carter, Dave Bindra, Anna Samsonova, Michael Richards, Denise (Chislett) Richards, Marc Nanasi, Joshua Israileff, Cindy Chandler, Lisa Berenstein, Judy Padis, Brian Hood and more.

Listeners are invited to play along. Enjoy Episode 3 of The Barb Wire.


SHOW CHRONOLOGY
  • 1:50 A quick story about how this podcast almost happened as a live, in-person event, at Alexis’s home in San Francisco, but didn’t.
  • 3:30 Dealing with California’s many frightening wildfires.
  • 5:00 Barbara and Alexis have vowed to do this podcast while drinking, and reveal their chosen tipples for the conversation.
  • 8:00 On living and working in San Francisco’s revitalized “Cloud Corridor” — where Airbnb, Pinterest, Adobe are located. It has caused been a huge influx of young people — who Alexis is working to convince to get off their computers and visit an actual jewelry store.
  • 9:15 Barbara and Alexis create a drinking game. Every time either of them mention “Conclave”, they both have to take a drink.
  • 11:00 How Alexis’s father first entered the jewelry business as a wholesaler. It’s a long story, and puka shells and Mr. T’s gold chains are involved.
  • 13:00 Alexis tells how her father moved from the wholesale business into retail.
  • 15:00 Alexis on selling her first engagement ring, and how the rush she experienced from making that sale got her hooked on the jewelry business.
  • 16:40 On how spending at least some time doing jewelry repair helps someone truly understand the jewelry business.
  • 19:30 Alexis discusses being a millennial in the industry, and trying to effect change in the industry, part of which is serving on the board for AGS Conclave … DRINK!
  • 22:50 More talk of AGS, and several more mentions of Conclave. More DRINKS! Things get messy, and the rules of the drinking game are changed.
  • 26:00 Alexis goes further into the responsibilities of being a millennial in the industry. “It’s not an easy path to take. Millennials, in terms of reputation, it’s not super-positive.” But she doesn’t understand the bad reputation of millennials. “What do millennials want that we don’t all want? We all want excellent customer service. We all want product available. We want to try on things, we want to see them in person. We want to see, touch, feel. And we want a good deal. Everything the millennials get a bad rap for … it’s something we all ultimately want.”
  • 30:40 “I would much rather be under-estimated and far exceed that expectation than the opposite.”
  • 32:50 How Forevermark, and its story, has been “an absolute game-changer” for Padis Jewelry. The store is currently partnering with Forevermark to open Forevermark’s first U.S. retail store in the East Bay area of San Francisco.
  • 35:55 Discussing Padis Vineyards, a 15-acre vineyard which produces about 3,000 bottles of wine per year. Barbara asks, “How do you own a vineyard and not be annihilated 24 hours a day?”
  • 38:50 “The wine business is just a blast,” says Alexis. “The funny thing is that it’s not that different from the jewelry industry.” How? In that most of the value of the product is found in the nuances. Very subtle differences can mean an enormous difference in price.
  • 40:40 Padis Vineyards has kept its ties to the jewelry industry, including launching a label called Scintillation and a kosher label called Brilliance.
  • 44:30 Alexis reveals her dream dinner date — and it’s the powerhouse wife of a key industry figure.
  • 48:40 Print or online? Alexis, somewhat apologetically, chooses online.
  • 50:20 Alexis’s biggest influences are a couple of people very close to her.
  • 52:00 Alexis’s biggest fans are her gem besties, including her fiancé, Brian, and her best friend since high school, Stephanie, who is also in the jewelry business.
  • 53:30 Alexis reveals her favorite four-letter “industry” word. It’s a word that most store-owners are extremely happy to hear.
  • 55:30 Alexis’s morning routine does NOT include coffee. “Nobody needs to see me on caffeine,” she says. Instead, she starts the day with a walk of her dog, Zoe, and some very loud jams.
  • 59:50 The one piece of jewelry that Alexis wears every day? Prepare to be surprised.
  • 61:30 The last industry article Alexis read? Just general coverage of retailers’ holiday performance, which has generally been positive for the 2018 holiday season to date. “It was all good news for me this morning,” said Alexis. Barbara’s also pleased, saying: “It’s good news for me too, man. Even journalists. We need to hear that too, or else we’re going, ‘I’ll be writing about those shower-curtain rings next month.’ And that’s a miserable thing to write about.”
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